The Hobbit – Chapter XI – On The Doorstep
This is another chapter that has always stuck with me. It’s a little strange that it would have made an impression when I was a kid. Not very much happens in this chapter. It’s mostly a group of frustrated dwarves looking around and waiting.
The chapter starts with the company striking out on their own. As excited as the townsfolk were, they weren’t excited enough to risk being near a dragon. It doesn’t take long for everyone’s spirits to drop. Bilbo is the only one who manages to keep some optimism. And, as we’ve gotten used to, Bilbo is responsible for all the success that the group manages. He is with the group that discovers the path to the “backdoor.” And he is the one who notices the thrush and the sun and the keyhole.
I can’t remember if I talked about the key and the thrush. Thorin has had the key since the beginning of the story. And the thrush was part of the moon letters that were discovered in Rivendell. They said that a thrush would be the sign on Durin’s Day (the last day of fall) that would reveal the secret door. It’s lucky for everyone that they arrived on time and that Bilbo was paying attention.
That’s really about all the action there is in this chapter. It mostly serves to increase the tension. There is a palpable sense of dread as they get closer and closer to the dragon. We’ll find there is good reason to dread in the next couple of chapters.